Doctors prefer to see specialty reps

May 1, 2001
Pharmaceutical Representative

Ninety percent of physicians prefer to be visited by specialty sales representatives, according to Newton, PA-based Scott-Levin's strategic study, "Specialty Reps: A Growing Force."

Ninety percent of physicians prefer to be visited by specialty sales representatives, according to Newton, PA-based Scott-Levin's strategic study, "Specialty Reps: A Growing Force."

The study, which included almost 6,000 doctors from 21 specialties, found that doctors felt that specialty reps know more about specific therapeutic areas, as well as current and competing products. In addition, 84% of physicians said a specialty rep's detailing presentation has at least some impact on their decision to prescribe.

Other highlights from the physician section of the study:


•Â Almost all the doctors (97%) see about 10 reps per month. On average, 62% of those are specialty reps.


•Â One-third of physicians expect their need for specialty reps to increase over the next two years, while 62% expect it to stay the same.


•Â Oncologists, neurologists and dermatologists are the specialists most likely to say they prefer to see specialty reps. Pediatricians are the least likely.


•Â About 32% of doctors say specialty reps' presentations have "quite a bit" or "a lot" of impact on their decision to prescribe. Another 27% say they are "very likely" or "extremely likely" to prescribe a particular product after a detail from a specialty rep.


•Â Almost 60% of physicians say that being detailed by a specialty rep increases the likelihood that they will prescribe the drug.

Specialty reps: An overview

Beside examining doctors' opinions about specialty reps, the study also looked at the specialty reps themselves. The study found that:


•Â Specialty reps tend to have at least two years of experience and are usually recruited from a company's general sales force, according to specialty reps from the companies with the 20 largest specialty forces.


•Â Over half (56%) of specialty reps are assigned to more than one therapeutic area or drug class.


•Â Specialty reps make an average of nine sales calls per day, and most detail two to three products at each call.


•Â When the doctor is not available, specialty reps see nurses about half the time. Of the reps who call on non-physician staff members, most feel that their meetings with nurse practitioners (61%) and physician assistants (57%) are extremely productive.

The overwhelming majority of specialty reps (88%) say they were trained separately from general and primary care reps. When asked which aspects of training were most helpful in dealing with physicians, specialty reps mentioned product and disease knowledge, advanced selling and communications skills, and clinical and competitor knowledge.

Specialist opinions

While most doctors say they prefer to be detailed by specialty reps, some prefer it more than others.

Oncologists (100%), neurologists (97%) and dermatologists (96%) were most likely to say they prefer specialty reps. These therapeutic areas have highly specialized drugs.

On the other hand, pediatricians - who often prescribe products promoted by general reps - were least likely (74%) to prefer specialty reps.

Other highlights from specialists featured in the study:


•Â Nearly 65% of cardiologists said that at least half of the sales reps they see are specialty reps.


•Â About 29% of gastroenterologists said they prescribe more when detailed by a specialty rep.


•Â One-fourth of OB/GYNs said they prescribe more when detailed by a specialty rep.


•Â Nearly three-quarters of oncologists say that nurses in their office see specialty reps.


•Â While 92% of pediatricians see pediatric specialty reps, they also see reps who specialize in other therapeutic classes, including allergy/immunol-ogy (43%), respiratory (26%) and dermatology (23%).


•Â About 21% of psychiatrists say they prescribe more after being detailed by specialty reps.


•Â Those urologists who prefer to be detailed by specialty reps write more prescriptions per week (64) than those who prefer general reps (56). PR